Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Broadcasting)
: I move,
That the Broadcasting Amendment Bill be now read a third time. This bill will bring New Zealand’s funding agencies slightly closer to a digital age. Like our counterparts overseas, New Zealand is moving steadily into a new digital era where analog transmission will become obsolete within a few years. In this new digital world, broadcasting-like content will increasingly appear on a variety of media and devices. Audiences of the future will, as a matter of course, expect to access content through a choice of platforms and at times of their choosing. The Government’s public broadcasting policies under the broadcasting programme of action aim to maintain and enhance the availability of public broadcasting content in the digital era. The changes proposed in this bill will enable our broadcasting funding agencies to support the production of local content in this new and exciting environment. A rich variety of local content is fundamental to any well-performing public broadcasting system, and is crucial to that success.
Dr Jonathan Coleman: Fire it up!
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The member says: “Fire it up!”. Whenever he says: “Fire it up!”, I think of cigars! How could one think of anything else? Where there is smoke there is someone who is steaming.
This bill will allow New Zealand On Air and Te Māngai Pāho to fund types of content, archiving, and transmission that are likely to be integral to digital radio and television platforms such as the Internet, mobile phones, and other mobile services. The ability to do this—as members are all aware, I am sure—is currently outside the scope of the Broadcasting Act 1989. This bill has been thoroughly considered. It was hardly controversial; there were only two submissions on it. I want to thank those people on the Commerce Committee who considered the bill.
This bill does some really interesting things, like introducing the terms “content” and “transmit on demand”. In fact, we had to change “Contents” to “Particulars” because of the introduction of the new term “content”. Even in doing a bill like this, I learnt something.
Dr Richard Worth: Does the member believe in this bill?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I learnt that members of the House of Lords do not say “Aye”; they are asked whether they are “Content” with a piece of legislation. Even “Lord What’s-his-name of Monaco” learnt that as well, when I told him. So the definition of “content” was something particularly important.
Dr Richard Worth: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not certain whether the current person addressing the Chamber was referring to me, but if he was, that was a wholly inappropriate appellation.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): That is not a point of order, and the member knows it. He has been here long enough.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It is relatively sad, as far as that member is concerned, that the National Party has decided to put him up in Epsom so that Rodney Hide can win. I mean, that is a sad state of affairs for a member of Parliament.
The current definitions, which will apply elsewhere in the Act, will be retained, but for the purposes of the two funding agencies they will be supplemented by the new terms. The bulk of the bill is concerned with permitting the agencies to fund the desired forms of digital content, transmission, and archiving. It will allow Te Māngai Pāho to fund the archiving of Māori language and culture programmes. It has been a fault of, probably, both Governments that that was not able to be done earlier on. In addition, the bill carries over the Act’s existing protection against ministerial interference in decisions. Ministers cannot even suggest, let alone direct, what should be archived and what should not.
Dr Jonathan Coleman: Tell us about the regulation you’re bringing in.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It is a protection, I suppose, in the very long term, against a Tory Government. I would love to have the power, but in 20 years’ time it will not be—
Dr Jonathan Coleman: Tell us about the regulation you’re bringing in after this.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No, no. What I said to the member—and if he was not in a cloud of smoke and if his ears were clean, he would know what I said—was that after we have had the digital review, which is going on, there will almost certainly be further legislation. The regulatory environment will change.
Dr Richard Worth: When?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It will change, almost certainly, next year, because that is how long it will take to work through that process. Anyone who has thought about convergence, which is touched on in this bill but is occurring—
Dr Jonathan Coleman: Touched on?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I do not want to sound too much like one of my colleagues, but it is a matter of both convergence and fragmentation. We are getting both of them happening at the same time, and we have to have a regulatory environment—
Dr Jonathan Coleman: Sounds like the Labour caucus—fragmenting and converging.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Well, no, I think not. I think anyone who looked at John Key in the House today saw how sad he looked, with those shocking bags under his eyes. He was doing an imitation of Mike Moore at his worst. That was John Key today. Clearly, the pressure is getting to that man.
Hon Mark Burton: He hasn’t done anything yet!
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No, no. He has clearly spent the weekend crying. [Interruption]
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Order!
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Well, members opposite asked me to discuss the regulation, and the inability of John Key to react to anything at all. I know it was a
different regulation that he was reacting to, but the question from Jonathan Coleman was one that was more general.
I would like to thank the people who made submissions to the select committee. We live in an age where traditional models have to be responsive to new technologies. This bill will ensure in a very small way that the public funding mechanisms for local content reflect the potential of the digital environment. I look forward, next year, to introducing more substantive legislation than this bill, and I look forward to some members opposite debating it at that time. I think that one day we will have an idea from Dr Coleman, because when the digital review was introduced he said there was nothing in it, then he went on the radio and said there was a lot in it and everyone should make submissions. The way he changes his mind is a bit like the way John Key changes his mind. He might be trying to imitate the leader—to grease up to him, to be on the front bench—because he acts like John Key—
Chris Tremain: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a Minister giving a speech on a third reading. I draw your attention to Standing Order 107(1) in terms of relevancy. This speech is far off the topic of what a concise Minister’s speech should be.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): I thank the member for his intervention and just mention that the Minister is responding to some interjections from the other side of the House, which do not actually help the debate.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I will go back to the essential point that this is a relatively small bill. We are likely to have a larger bill introduced to the House as a result of the consultation process occurring at the moment, and one of the things we will be interested in when that bill comes in is whether, by that stage, Dr Coleman has got his head round the convergence issues that are driving these changes, and whether he will get his head round the fragmentation issues that are changing the face of broadcasting—
Hon Paul Swain: He’ll be in Opposition so it won’t matter.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I am an old-fashioned member; I think occasionally people can make a contribution from the Opposition. Clearly, Jonathan Coleman is not there yet.
Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (National—Northcote)
: Well, that was a really interesting contribution from Trevor Mallard, because he probably spent a good 3 minutes talking about the Opposition spokesperson on broadcasting. I really think that when a Minister goes so far off the topic during what is supposed to be a third reading ministerial speech, it shows that either he does not know what he is talking about or he is severely rattled. Trevor Mallard really went off the script there. I mean, he started in a boring monotone, reading out the stuff that officials would have given him this afternoon. Then, with a little bit of interjection, Mr Mallard lost it completely. That is vintage Trevor Mallard—he loses it; he is out of here.
But what was really interesting during the Committee stage of this bill was the fact that Trevor Mallard assured us that after this bill was passed, there would be further legislation. And that was the big mistake he made, because we know that the legislation he is talking about will involve some heavy-handed regulation. The fact is that Labour has put out a consultation document through the Ministry for Culture and Heritage that is a review of digital broadcasting. It has laid out lots of options, and it is a couple of hundred pages long. It will be of a lot of interest to journalists, broadcasters, and politicians but not of much interest to the general public. But it is really a Trojan Horse for what the Minister wants to do, which is to regulate broadcasting heavily.
Labour has a real problem in broadcasting: it has a failed broadcasting policy that has really shackled Television New Zealand (TVNZ). Basically, with the charter, TVNZ
can be neither fully commercial nor fully public. It is caught in the middle, and its finances are getting a lot worse. This Government has managed to halve the value of TVNZ. Steve Maharey managed to cut the value of TVNZ by half, and if he had had another term as Minister, I reckon he would have got it right down to zero. So, really, the next election will come as merciful relief for this Labour Government, in terms of broadcasting, because it is flat out of ideas. It does not have any ideas. This digital review is basically a bottom-trawl for ideas, which the Government will throw back up, and push through in legislation. Trevor Mallard has been quite open about that.
National is supporting this bill, as we have heard today. It will bring funding arrangements into line with newly developing technology. Trevor Mallard was right: he talked about fragmentation and convergence. That sounds like the Labour caucus, which is fragmenting and then converging to the right of the party. But there are some major technological changes, and this bill will mean that Te Māngai Pāho and New Zealand On Air will be able to fund content for new platforms. When the Broadcasting Act was passed in 1989 we basically had only radio and television. We have moved into a completely new age, and people are getting their content from the Internet, they are downloading things, and they are able to watch things on platforms such as mobile phones. The funding arrangements will mean that those broadcasting funding agencies can fund content for those new digital platforms.
But an interesting point is that National members are very keen to make sure that anything that receives public funds is available free to air to all New Zealanders. If content for a mobile phone platform will be funded, for instance, we would have some concerns if that were a pay-per-view service. So there may be one or two things that need ironing out, but in general we are very keen for the funding arrangements to reflect the new technology.
One thing that is an issue is the TVNZ charter. As Richard Worth said, I think in the second reading, the problem with the current charter is that it is just a bunch of aspirational statements with no concrete, measurable goals. That is causing a problem, because it means that the charter is essentially meaningless. The Government has had a review, which has rehashed the wording of the charter, and it is being brought back before the Commerce Committee, but it will not make any difference. There are still no measurable goals. We have to ask ourselves, in relation to the TVNZ charter, whether there is any difference between what is on our screens now, compared with the time before we had the TVNZ charter. The basic reality is that there is no difference. There is absolutely no difference. I mean, what is charter programming? People at TVNZ can say that it is absolutely anything.
Dancing with the Stars
is supposedly charter programming. So I think we need to get to an environment—
Hon Georgina te Heuheu: It shouldn’t be.
Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Well, it should not be; it is nakedly commercial. But we really need to have some transparency around where public broadcasting funding goes, and we need to have a charter that is actually meaningful and that provides some concrete, measurable goals. Clearly, there is a need to look at what is happening in broadcasting.
I think we can say—quite succinctly—that Labour’s broadcasting policy has been an absolute failure. What we have is the State broadcaster basically going down the drain. Labour has eroded the value of the State broadcaster. We now have new FreeView channels, which are getting $104 million of public money. There is no certainty that they will survive commercially, because if those TV6 and TV7 channels are to succeed, they will have to draw audiences across from TVNZ. That will be a problem for TVNZ, because there will not be any advertising on those two new digital channels. So there is an environment where audiences will be sucked across to the new channels, and
Television One and TV2 audience numbers will be dropping. As a result of the audience numbers dropping, the advertising revenue will drop, TVNZ’s revenues will drop, and the bottom line will continue to deteriorate. This is the result of broadcasting policy under this Government.
So just to come back to where we were, I say that National does support this bill. As I say, it brings the funding arrangements into line with modern technology, but it raises some serious issues. This bill illustrates where technology is going in broadcasting, and that raises a whole raft of issues around the sustainability of TVNZ and how it will continue to remain financially viable. It also brings up the point of the terrible burden the charter has saddled TVNZ with. Basically, we have a Labour Government that has failed New Zealanders in terms of broadcasting. It has been a case of poor stewardship of public broadcasting and poor stewardship of public money, and it is time for change in this field. In summary, National is supporting this bill but there are real challenges in broadcasting ahead. The real danger is that, as Trevor Mallard has said, Labour is very keen to get in and regulate this particular sector, and it will do so under the guise of the review of digital broadcasting. Thank you.
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Labour—Rimutaka)
: I was hoping for a bit of policy there from National, and some knowledge of what it would do, but that was a bit of a wasted effort. Never mind! I support the Broadcasting Amendment Bill. It is a very good bill. It actually brings New Zealand into the 20th century. The 21st century will come up next year with, potentially, some new legislation. The bill simply allows transmission on other forms of technology, including the Internet and cellphones. This is good legislation and it needs to be supported by the House.
Hon GEORGINA TE HEUHEU (National)
: National supports the Broadcasting Amendment Bill.
- Sitting suspended from 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Prior to the House being suspended for the dinner break at 6 o’clock, the honourable member Georgina te Heuheu was speaking. As she was interrupted after only a few seconds had passed, I have decided that she should have a full 10 minutes of speaking time. I invite the member to seek the call.
Hon GEORGINA TE HEUHEU: At least I had time to say something that is more important than anything, which is that National supports the Broadcasting Amendment Bill. There are obvious reasons for this. The bill brings New Zealand’s broadcasting funding agencies into line with the digital age. It enables those two broadcasting funding agencies that we have, New Zealand On Air and Te Māngai Pāho, to support the production, transmission, and archiving of digital content. Obviously, with the development of digital broadcasting in New Zealand and internationally, these agencies need to be able to respond to the opportunities and challenges of the digital world—to meet the changing needs and expectations not only of broadcasters, but particularly, of content producers and the New Zealand public.
In other words, the bill is about funding content for the new digital platforms. Specifically it permits New Zealand On Air and Te Māngai Pāho to fund such developments as video on demand, interactivity between broadcaster and audiences, and the re-visioning of content for non-broadcast platforms like the Internet and mobile phones. The common feature of this is that transmission occurs at the demand of the individual viewer or listener, in contrast to traditional broadcasting, where, of course, the broadcasters themselves, like those in television and radio, rule—or so they think.
As I say, this legislation is about the listener and the viewer, and being able to bring to them what they want and what they need in a digital era. These new platforms are the
mechanisms by which broadcasters and content creators seek to retain and expand their audiences, and to serve them better. In that context, this is a simple but important bill. Audiences expect to access content through a choice of platforms, and at times they do choose to do so. That is why essentially National supports the bill.
One other important change I want to mention—although I have certainly raised this in the second reading debate, and maybe in the first reading debate—is that the bill will allow Te Māngai Pāho to fund the archiving of Māori language and culture programmes. This has been a bit of an anomaly in our law, in that New Zealand On Air has had such a function in relation to general broadcast content and Te Māngai Pāho has not. Given the very important role that Te Māngai Pāho plays not only in funding Māori programming but in funding programming that enhances, adds to, and supports a unique New Zealand identity, this is extremely important, as well. As the bill is such a necessity now, given the modern developments in the digital age, one wonders why it took the Government so long to bring it to the House.
I must say I was interested to hear from the new Minister of Broadcasting—and he is new; I have not heard him say all that much about broadcasting since he took office.
Christopher Finlayson: Who is it?
Hon GEORGINA TE HEUHEU: I know who it is because he stood in the House this afternoon. It is the Hon Trevor Mallard. I am not surprised that my colleague Chris Finlayson does not know who he is. As I say, I cannot recall that I have heard him say much about broadcasting. I suppose this is a nice little tidy bill for him to bring to its third reading and to pass into law.
Of course content, and particularly local content, reigns supreme in the sense that the New Zealand taxpayer shells out millions of dollars each year to fund local content. In that regard, although we are making provision for the funding of alternative platforms, I have to say that sometimes we look at Television New Zealand (TVNZ) programmes and wonder whether it has come to grips with the traditional platform, seeing that over a period of 9 years the value of TVNZ has been wiped pretty badly. It has not come to terms with its twin remit of commercial and public broadcasting, and it has lost audience share quite dramatically over the last few years.
On the one hand we have to keep up with modern developments, particularly in terms of the digital era, but, in other respects, it seems that on some days TVNZ is way, way behind the eight ball. That is a shame. This Government has spent so much of the last 8 years wringing its hands and finding itself in trouble with the goings-on at TVNZ that, frankly, the actual introduction of FreeView to make digital transmission available to all audiences in New Zealand for free has been rather halting, as well. With the move to digital transmission—the digital age internationally—New Zealand still seems to be lagging behind.
I turn to the issue of content, and especially local content. If
Dancing with the Stars is meant to satisfy our need, or the needs of New Zealand audiences, for local content, I point out that this programme follows an international format. Sure, it has local people, New Zealanders, dancing around on the floor—and very nice they look, too—but I really do not know that that programme meets the responsibility of TVNZ to make sure that it satisfies the public broadcasting element of its remit, and to make sure that New Zealanders see something of themselves.
I do not intend to go on. Given that the bill is urgently required, and given the pace of digital technology and digital platforms, we support the bill. We will be very pleased to see it pass into law, not a moment too soon.
Dr RICHARD WORTH (National)
: In the context of the Broadcasting Amendment Bill we have an opportunity, just for a moment, to reflect on the strength of public broadcasting in New Zealand across the various media—I am thinking obviously
of television and of radio. I have had an opportunity, as this bill has progressed through its various stages, to talk about some aspects of it at some considerable length, but I certainly do not plan to do that tonight as this is, from any view of it, simple legislation. But what I have done is bemoan the fact that we have lost an opportunity in this bill to be so much better than we might have been.
Those in the Māori Party who are here tonight made a really good point in the earlier stages of this bill. They said that here was the opportunity to provide a secure funding line for Māori television and Māori radio—and I would add to that non-Māori television and non-Māori radio—to ensure that these facilities are appropriately resourced. Yet the bill, as we know, is quite silent on this issue. Sure, it gives effect to the Government’s decision to enable the broadcasting funding agencies—the Broadcasting Commission, known as New Zealand On Air, and Te Reo Whakapuaraki Iriangi, known as Te Māngai Pāho—to be able to support the production, transmission, and archiving of digital content with the development of digital broadcasting in New Zealand and internationally. It makes some other changes to the Broadcasting Act that are particularly important. But my issue is this: in a setting where National supports this bill, why did we not go further when we had the opportunity to deal with the issue that the Māori Party has raised, and with another issue that I would like to dwell on just for a moment.
That issue concerns those charter arrangements that burden and, in my view, cloister Television New Zealand from being something more than it currently is. I started off in this debate by saying that we should be proud of public broadcasting, and are we? I do not think that we are. If we ask the further question as to why we are not, then the answer to that is in substantial measure around this Television New Zealand charter. This charter will, I hope, be scrutinised and closely examined by the Commerce Committee in terms of the references that are made in legislation to it. But it is an impossible deal. We have a current charter, we have a charter that was redrafted, and now we have a charter that has been redrafted following the input of submissions. The charter is structured under a number of headings—eight in all—and we need only to look at the headings to see immediately what the problem is.
I dwelt in earlier debates on one part of it, “An Informed Society”, and I looked at the elements that were stated as part of that broad heading, to describe them as meaningless, aspirational, sentimental, and non-measurable. So what I thought I would do tonight is to look at another part of the charter.
Christopher Finlayson: They were the good parts.
Dr RICHARD WORTH: Well, we searched for a good part, I say to Mr Finlayson. I thought I would just pick up the second heading, which is “National Identity and Citizenship”. That is the main heading, and there are a number of subheadings. The subheadings are “To provide entertaining, educational, and informative programmes that reflects”—it should be “reflect”, but it states “reflects”—“the diverse range of cultures and interests that contribute to an understanding of who we are as New Zealanders,”. That is the aspirational statement. Then come the fulfilment provisions, including “Provide shared experiences”—I ask what that means—“that contribute to a sense of citizenship and national identity;”. Who is sharing that? Is that Television New Zealand sharing with us—the listeners, the viewers—that sense of citizenship and national identity? The second is “Provide programmes that contribute towards intellectual, scientific, cultural, sporting, and spiritual development;”. I just pause to reflect on that phrase “spiritual development” for a moment.
The third element is another opportunity: “Enhance citizens’ opportunities to participate in public life by featuring programmes that provide a forum for critical and many-sided debate;”. Well, I am not sure that those who sit at home and watch
Television New Zealand think: “Wow, I feel great about this. I am participating in public life.” Surely, that is a complete nonsense. Then there is an element: “Provide programmes about the diverse cultures, history, heritage and natural environment of New Zealand, and its regions;”. We would say that is great; I would say that it is great also. There is also “Provide programmes that cater for minority interests;”, “Provide programmes intended for general audiences that address minority interests;”, and, finally, “Strive to enable New Zealanders of all abilities to engage with the fullest range of programmes.” What does that mean in the context of a broad-based, aspirational charter?
That is why I have said in the debates centred around this bill that we need to look again at that charter. We need to set some hard-nosed, measurable goals so that it will be possible in that setting to say, yes, Television New Zealand is a good public broadcaster because it has achieved some goals that were set and are able to be reckoned in the market place as having been fulfilled or not.
As for the bill itself, as others have commented, it is in two parts. It is a short bill, consisting of Part 1, “Amendments to Broadcasting Act 1989”, and Part 2, which is headed, dangerously, “Miscellaneous”. So one looks in Part 2 at a raft of stylistic amendments that have been made. I think we were both entertained and concerned by the comments in speeches that the Hon Georgina te Heuheu made in the Committee of the whole House in connection with Part 2, because she appropriately—very appropriately—drew to our attention the shortfalls in Part 2. It is a very curious part. One of the clauses is headed “Stylistic amendments to Broadcasting Act 1989”, but, as the Hon Georgina te Heuheu explained to what was, as I recall it, a hushed Committee and a crowded gallery, these changes are much more than stylistic. They touch on punctuation, they touch on grammar, they touch on style, and they touch on a raft of issues.
I will conclude now—somewhat sadly, I suppose—by just saying that here is legislation that could have been so much better. We have supported it because of its principal thrust. It is a really good example of a Government that is uncaring and that is not really prepared to go the extra distance that would produce strong and good work. Instead, it is a Government that is exhausted and is simply not prepared to look for perfection where perfect outcomes are possible. So the bill completes its final reading—this, the third stage. What lies beyond? It is the Royal assent only. I express the fervent hope that the Governor-General of New Zealand, as commander-in-chief, will sign this bill into law. He assuredly should do so in terms of the constitutional conventions, but it could have been a lot better than it is.
HONE HARAWIRA (Māori Party—Te Tai Tokerau)
: Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker. Kia ora tātou katoa e te Whare. The fact that we are considering this Broadcasting Amendment Bill at this time is very, very auspicious, for a number of reasons. On this day 21 years ago, on 11 March 1987, the Maori Language Act was passed, declaring Māori to be an official language of New Zealand. The Māori Language Commission was also established and given a specific responsibility to promote te reo Māori as a living language.
The importance of the Māori language to Māori broadcasting, of course, is that it was the Court of Appeal decision obligating the Crown to protect and promote the Māori language that led to the funding and the growth in Māori radio and the eventual creation of Māori Television. It is also worth noting that policy and funding for Māori broadcasting was seen by the Waitangi Tribunal and accepted by the Crown as a way for the Crown to honour its Treaty obligations to protect and promote te tino rangatiratanga o te reo Māori—not just Māori language but “an authentic and
independent Māori voice”. It is the very same authentic and independent Māori voice that the Māori Party has so very clearly become in this very Parliament.
The fact that the Broadcasting Amendment Bill is being read for a final time this week is also worth noting, because for many Māori this week will also be notable for another ending. This week we had the announcement of Whai Ngāta’s retirement as general manager of Māori programming at Television New Zealand. As we move to digital transmission and aim to strengthen the archiving of Māori programming, we are also farewelling one of Māori broadcasting’s true veterans. He is a man who has helped steer Māori broadcasting for more than 30 years, who won the 1980 Mobil radio award for his documentary on the 28th Māori Battalion, and who, 20 years ago, was made deputy head of the brand new Māori programmes department of Television New Zealand, which was responsible, in its first years, for three new programmes:
Tagata Pasifika, and
Waka Huia. Just a year ago he was awarded the title of Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori broadcasting and television.
As we celebrate Whai’s commitment to advancing Māori broadcasting in Aotearoa, we think, too, of those others who have been at the vanguard of Māori broadcasting—legends like Ernie Leonard, Wīremu Kerekere, Wīremu Parker, Hēnare Te Ua, Haare Williams, Selwyn Muru, Hēnare Kīngi, Huirangi Waikerepuru, and many, many others who have made a significant contribution to the industry, including the Māori Party’s candidate for the Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat, Mr Derek Tini Fox.
In amending the Act to allow Te Māngai Pāho to fund the archiving of Māori programmes, this bill will allow us to honour many of those people I have mentioned, and a veritable host of others whose stories have been passed down through waiata, karakia, haka, whaikōrero, and interviews, many of which were recorded through programmes like
Te Puna Wai Kōrero,
Ngā Take Māori, Te Mana Māori, He Rerenga Kōrero, and other Māori programmes that are a vital part of our sound and visual archives.
This week is also auspicious for another reason. Come this weekend all eyes will be on Rotorua for the hosting of the annual Māori Media Awards, a ceremony initiated by Te Whakaruruhau o Ngā Reo Irirangi Māori under my chairmanship. The awards are an opportunity to celebrate Māori excellence in the field of Māori broadcasting. As we recognise many of the talents within the burgeoning Māori broadcasting sector, it is timely that we recognise the importance of the digital world and embrace the latest in broadcasting and communications technology, along with the people who have the skills to maximise our opportunities from that technology.
Mind you, for all of that celebration there is still much to be done, including addressing the age-old problem of Māori programmes being shunted around to suit the commercial ratings of Television New Zealand. Twenty-one years ago Hone Kaa said that Television New Zealand’s decision to screen the current affairs programme
Ngā Take Māori at 10 p.m. on Sundays “shows a lack of commitment to Maori programmes”. Well, as we all know now, those were actually the good old days, when 10 p.m. was almost prime-time viewing, compared with the midnight slot that
Te Karere has been ghettoised into. Yet there is nothing in this Broadcasting Amendment Bill that addresses this marginalisation and denigration of Māori programming. There is a big hole in this bill in that it can talk so easily about valuing the past through the archiving of Māori programming, and about preparing us for the future by funding things like video on demand and managing content on other platforms, but completely ignore the present demand for prime-time viewing of Māori programmes on mainstream television.
Māori Party will support this bill because it has a positive focus on archiving and on digital development, but we remain critical of the fact that Labour’s Māori MPs have remained silent during the three readings of this bill on the issues that matter most to Māori: one, why there is no commitment to the ongoing funding of Māori broadcasting; two, why Māori programming on Television New Zealand gets shunted to midnight to suit commercial ratings, when Māori is an official language in this country and when Television New Zealand has a charter obligation to promote the Māori language; and, three, why the Crown will not allow Te Māngai Pāho to be appointed by the Crown and Māori in the same way that the Māori Television board is appointed. This last issue raises, of course, a fourth issue: why will the Crown not allow the Television New Zealand board to be appointed by the Crown and Māori in the same way that the Māori Television board is appointed?
We take this opportunity to again challenge Television New Zealand to lift its game by accepting its obligations to honour the significance of the Māori voice, by giving the Māori voice the recognition that comes with prime-time viewing, by enabling Māori to be full players in the growth of new technology, and by recognising the increasingly more important role that Māori are playing in the future of our society.
Finally, we wish Television New Zealand’s new Māori programme commissioner, Kath Graham, of Ngāti Korokī Kahukura, all the best in her challenge to increase the number, the quality, and the placement of Māori programmes on Television New Zealand’s channels. The Māori Party is committed to a future that includes a continued growth in Māori broadcasting, Māori programming, and Māori people who themselves are focused on increasing Māori programming in all broadcast media. We will be supporting this bill on that basis. Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker. Kia ora tātou katoa.
PITA PARAONE (NZ First)
: Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker. Tēnā hoki tātou. I want to make one or two comments about the Broadcasting Amendment Bill. Although New Zealand First will support the bill, I ought to say that we certainly share some of the disquiet expressed by previous speakers, particularly in terms of the ongoing funding and placement of Māori programmes. As we live in 2008, with the digital age well and truly upon us, it seems appropriate that the sort of funding provided for in this bill is supported.
I looked up the Broadcasting Act 1989, which the bill before the House amends. I would think that those who are strongly pushing things Māori would have taken the opportunity of submitting a Supplementary Order Paper to include the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in this amendment bill.
Hon Member: Why didn’t you?
PITA PARAONE: Members know why members of New Zealand First did not—because we do not believe in them.
It seems to me that this country can have legislation that affects Māori that does not need to include the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. It just reaffirms the point that New Zealand First has always argued, which is that the principles do not exist. They are a figment of someone’s imagination, a figment that much of this House supports. I would have thought that some members would raise the issue, given that this amendment bill is all about enabling the broadcasting funding agencies, like Te Reo Whakapuaki Te Irirangi, commonly known as Te Māngai Pāho, to fund the production, transmission, and archiving of new forms of digital content.
There has not been any reference to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, particularly from those Māori members who have spoken in the past with regard not only to this bill but to a lot of other bills where a lot of emphasis has been placed on those principles. I would think they would have taken the opportunity to do so in respect of this amendment legislation. Quite clearly, this House does think we can have
legislation—even legislation that, as in this case, refers to Māori broadcasting—that does not need to make any reference to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.
I know that my leader and other members of New Zealand First have often asked those who have supported the notion of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi to actually articulate just what those principles are, and, if they are able to articulate them, to explain why the principles are not listed in legislation. I hope that someone who has very strong views on the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi being included in legislation might take a call after me to suggest that the principles should be included. But I signal to anyone who has that notion that New Zealand First will certainly not support it.
As the previous speaker from the Māori Party pointed out, it is almost 21 years since the Maori Language Act came into being. I believe that this amendment will add impetus to what the Māori language is all about.
Hone Harawira: Stop pushing in on our research here.
PITA PARAONE: My brother from Te Tai Tokerau, Mr Harawira, must have had an oversight on his part, or in reality he believes that there is no such thing as the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and that we can have good legislation like this amendment bill without making any reference to those principles.
But I have to say that New Zealand First certainly supports the Broadcasting Amendment Bill.
Hone Harawira: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like to point out that New Zealand First’s bill was actually a bill to oppose the Treaty of Waitangi.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): That is out of order, and the member has been here long enough to know that.
PITA PARAONE: It is important that those who are charged with the fiscal provision for organisations like Te Māngai Pāho will take this amendment into consideration when they are placing requests for increased funding, because surely they will need it. As a number of our old people pass on, I think it is important that the recorded comments they have made are properly archived so that the mita o te reo is maintained.
I acknowledge the increased use of the language today, but much of the language that is in use today is different from when I was growing up. Be that as it may, it also shows that te reo Māori is a living language and moves with the times. In conclusion, I reiterate the point that New Zealand First will certainly be supporting this amendment bill. Kia ora.
DIANNE YATES (Labour)
: I rise to speak on the third reading of the Broadcasting Amendment Bill. I have not been involved in this legislation at all, and I was not on the select committee, but I am surprised at the very short report that has come through from the Commerce Committee. I note that there were only two submissions on this bill, and that there was unanimity at the select committee. I found the speech from Dr Richard Worth on this matter to be rather strange—he said that it was a pity that there were not more amendments—because the committee obviously had every opportunity to make amendments if it had considered them to be necessary. One or two little changes looked more like typo changes and changes in numbering, but apart from that the content of the bill has stayed as it was through the select committee deliberations and through the Committee stage until now.
I note that the aim of the bill is to amend the Broadcasting Act 1989, and that the bill will allow Government funding for a wider range of digital programming in a variety of formats. I think that is something to be praised, because it means that technology will come on board. This will enable the agencies to fund a variety of services, and it is about Government funding keeping pace with that technology. In itself it is basically a
technical bill, in that it enables broadcasting as we have it now to keep up to date and to enable that funding to be directed into those areas.
As has been mentioned, the bill also amends the Act to allow Te Māngai Pāho to archive funded Māori language and culture programmes. I think that is extremely valuable not only to preserve the language but also for the speaking of older people—perhaps we should call it “classical Māori”, as opposed to “modern Māori”—to be archived.
I have had the privilege of attending some of the concerts and works that have been presented during the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts. Those works that have been New Zealand - orientated have paid tribute to Māori language and to Māori music in many ways. Some of the music is taken from ancient music and ancient instruments that have been revived in New Zealand, and I think it is extremely important. I know that Hineani Melbourne, who worked in Hamilton for a long time and who has sadly passed on, was one of the people who enabled the recording and the revival of traditional Māori instruments. I am pleased to say that this bill will enable archives to be funded, to be kept alive, and to be used. It is one thing to have archives and to bury them, but it is another to be able to access them and to use that material for the benefit of people today and for the benefit of our culture and heritage in New Zealand. It is something that I think New Zealand can be proud of. We can generally be proud of the standard of broadcasting and the standard of New Zealand On Air.
It is with pleasure that I speak at the third reading of this bill, which is, as I said, a technical bill about technical changes that allow funding for us to utilise those facilities in New Zealand. As I get near to retiring, I say that I think the new facilities in this House for recording what we have, archiving what we have, and keeping New Zealand in better contact with what goes on in this House are to be commended. I commend the Broadcasting Amendment Bill on its third reading to the House, and I look forward to its implementation.